Wind has Surpassed Hydro

April 15, 2020

While I wasn’t looking.


In 2019, U.S. annual wind generation exceeded hydroelectric generation for the first time, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Electric Power Monthly. Wind is now the top renewable source of electricity generation in the country, a position previously held by hydroelectricity. 

Annual wind generation totaled 300 million megawatthours (MWh) in 2019, exceeding hydroelectric generation by 26 million MWh. Wind generation has increased steadily during the past decade, in part, because the Production Tax Credit (PTC), which drove wind capacity additions, was extended. Annual hydroelectric generation has fluctuated between 250 million MWh and 320 million MWh in the past decade, reflecting a stable capacity base and variable annual precipitation.

As of the end of 2019, the United States had 103 GW of wind capacity, nearly all of which (77%) were installed in the past decade. The United States has 80 GW of hydroelectric capacity, most of which has been operating for several decades. Only 2 GW of hydroelectric capacity has been added in the past decade, and some of those additions involved converting previously nonpowered dams

Although total installed wind capacity surpassed total installed hydroelectric capacity in 2016, it wasn’t until 2019 that wind generation surpassed hydroelectric generation. The average annual capacity factors for the hydroelectric fleet between 2009 and 2019 ranged from 35% to 43%. The average annual capacity factors for the U.S. wind fleet were lower, ranging from 28% to 35%. Capacity factors are the ratio of the electrical energy produced by a generating unit for a specified period of time to the electrical energy that could have been produced at continuous full power operation during the same period.

6 Responses to “Wind has Surpassed Hydro”

  1. Brent Jensen-Schmidt Says:

    Expanding Hydro has two obvious problems. Firstly, shortage of suitable sites for the dams. Bit of a problem but not universal. Secondly is pressure from special interest groups against any development. This should be, in my firm opinion, be legislated away. The needs of the whole, and the saving of the planet, come before somebody’s view or the survival of some weird plant. CAGW will screw it all anyway. The same can be said for effectively all other needed energy generators. Note. My home would not be affected.

    • doldrom Says:

      NIMBY/CAGW. Strong opening move. Special interest groups, like the alliance of back yard owners? Or people concerned with disappearing diversity and negative long-term changes to the ecology. (Almost all change is negative for the status quo, like mutations), especially in the short-term. The status quo comprises the viability of current agriculture, industry, and transportation.

      You’ve certainly come to the right site for sympathy.
      You sir, are a weird plant.

      • Brent Jensen-Schmidt Says:

        Certainly not looking for sympathy. Do you disagree that GAGW will screw the world?

        • dumboldguy Says:

          You don’t really don’t need to defend yourself or debate with a “weird plant” who maintains that mutations are negative.

  2. redskylite Says:

    The area I live in has been under a lengthy drought and water reserves are getting very low, another reason why hydro is not so alluring now, as wind seems more reliable

    Wind surpasses hydro generation in Australia

    Wind’s new position as the leading renewable source is due in part to ongoing drought conditions in eastern Australia resulting in falling hydro production.

    However, wind and solar capacity has also grown rapidly. The wind sector added 837MW of new capacity across eight projects last year.

    Meanwhile, large-scale solar added more than 1.4GW, while rooftop solar added 2.2GW. A total of 4.4GW of new renewable energy capacity was added across the year.

    This all means that wind power generated 19.5TWh in 2019, compared with 14.2TWh from hydro and 5.1TWh from large-scale solar sources. Wind power projects, therefore, produced over 35% of Australia’s renewable electricity.

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